Working with custom picture frames, we understand that artwork, artifacts, and photography can actually age and change in appearance a lot faster than you’d think. We all look at items on our wall every day. We change with it our wall art, so we don’t notice the change in the piece itself. But at our shop, we have seen it happen to our customers in as little as 3-5 years. Drastic exposure from light sources (natural or man-made) can have big effects. Items that are acidic, in fact, start to yellow even faster. Acidic pieces can turn in as little as 2-3 years. If you’re confused about this, think of how newspapers turn yellow over time. This is because of an acidic pH level. The pieces in your home can do that too. That’s why it’s important to use a conservation grade material such as acid-free and cotton-based products. Indeed, it’s so important that we print on that very kind of material because it ensures the quality of our work for the long term. It will protect your work and make it last.
Beware of a Hidden Danger: The Products Behind the Art!
In addition to using acid-free and cotton-based materials for printing our custom frame projects and more, we see so many artists using Scotch tape or other brands with similar chemistry for mounting. However, that’s the fastest way to permanently etch an acid burn into an artifact. We have literally seen Scotch tape effect products in as little as a few months. This kind of tape uses a nearly colorless adhesive from oils, resins, and rubber in order to keep the cellophane transparent. However, the adhesive product and the cellophane itself are highly acidic.
Another danger is cardboard. Artists will frequently mount their artwork directly on cardboard, but it is just as bad as the tape they use to hold it on there. Specifically, artists will use the cardboard as the backing and then tape the paper to the cardboard with Scotch tape or similar. And if they aren’t using acid-free, cotton-based paper….they are in for a triple whammy! The cardboard starts to brown things about as quickly as the tape. So in less than a year, you can have some severe yellowing that leeches into your artwork.
If you are curious about conservation grade alternatives for paper, backing, and adhesive, please call us and tell us what your project is so we can help. 615-815-6015
Lastly, UV exposure is a big threat to artwork as well. So we strongly advise using UV protective glass. Fluorescent light, sunlight, ambient light from brightly colored rooms – with all of these, the light bounces around so much that the art fades because of how bright the room gets.
Are Conservation Grade Materials for Custom Picture Frames Expensive?
In summary, be mindful of your paper, backing, adhesive, UV lights, and remember to use acid-free mats as well. There’s only a marginal difference in each of these dangers. This is precisely why we strongly encourage conservation grade materials for custom picture frames. But don’t be alarmed by the label “conservation grade.” It sounds like a higher price, however, we have thousands of samples of mat boards and frames from which to choose for custom framing. We can definitely find a price that works for your budget.